today's post is the first in a long line of advice posts that we've been working on over here at eeco. we hope you can get something out of this little guy or know someone who can. choosing a venue for your celebration is not easy, but keeping a few very important things in mind may help with the process.
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we're going to be totally honest from the get go here because, well, the perfect venue does not exist but you can get pretty darn close. choosing the venue for your celebration is undoubtedly the biggest decision you'll make regarding your wedding. along with venue choice comes the date and a slough of other things that will make your wedding perfect for the both of you...
here is a surefire way to help you in choosing a venue that will be a much better fit (for the both of you) than others. with your partner, decide from the list below on the top ten things that affect your feelings about a location. after you've chosen ten together, put a number next to each one (between one and ten - one being the least important, ten being the most), each of you, separately. once you've got your numbers, add them together. the three highest numbers should be the items that you can not waver on when choosing a venue.
location, fee(s), cost per hour, logistical considerations (is it awkward to seat guests, does the ceremony spot make sense?), proximity from hotels, music shut off time, fire/firecracker/sparkler allowance, candles, music allowance/restrictions, parking, a place to get ready, overall ambiance, is the venue a blank canvas (?), venue staff, weddings per weekend, restroom situation, rental extras (tables, chairs, umbrellas, heaters, etc.), ...
some other things (our top ten) to keep on your radar when going to a venue. go ahead, print this bad boy out and don't forget to get the skinny on each one.
1. how many other weddings do they have a year, that weekend or even on the same day?
does it seem like this place is pumping out weddings like cable is pumping out bridal shows? you'll often be overlooked or under appreciated if they have too many to handle (sorry, but it's true). it's best to choose a venue that has a good amount - that means they're preparred and experienced at hosting weddings, but not too many. after all, you're paying a grip load to have your celebration with them. you deserve to be special. also, have you attended a wedding or seen wedding images through friends of friends that have taken place there? chances are you aren't the first one in your little community to choose this place. you both owe it to yourself to find someplace unique, so keep looking if everyone and their mom has said "i do" there.
2. how many hours do they alot for your celebration? do they allow extensions (of hours) and what is the fee for such an extension?
eight hours, ten hours, five hours plus ceremony time and 1,000 bucks for every hour in addition? when it comes to a venue's hours policy, the more the better. often times brides and grooms forget to think about how long it will actually take for their vendors to set-up, especially if there is likely to be heavy design. weigh out how much it would cost and divide it by the amount of hours you're allowed. does it add up or make your head spin?
3. do they have a preferred (or required) vendor list that you must choose from?
this isn't necessarily a bad or a good thing but more of a personal freedom choice thing. some couples love to scout and find their coolest, most favorite vendors on their own while others want to be hurded in the right direction. a very strict vendor list? be sure to do a little scoping on the fees for their preferred vendors. if they are all on the super high end, your wedding may end up costing you more than you planned on.
4. what's the guest parking situation like?
do they allow cars? how many? no room at all? that's ok, but you'll have to account for room in the budget for guest transportation if there isn't any. even if there is parking, did you have a difficult time turning around in the driveway or is it poorly lit at night? you may want to consider a valet service if this is the case.
5. how many bathrooms (lets be honest..how many TOILETS) do they have?
this is an important one. you may think that you can get away with fewer toilets than you'd think for your 150 person wedding because aunt sally and your best friend sarah can stand in line for a bit to save a few bucks. LISTEN. it's not about the wait line. it's about the amount of flushes a toilet (especially a private home toilet) can handle per day. the last thing you want is for that to, um, not work. so, whats the rule of thumb? one toilet per 75 guests, MAX. it's better to err on the safe side when renting more. or, perhaps they are already equipped with enough to handle your guest count. but, don't forget to ask.
6. do they have a place for you to get ready?
is it a little room? can your bridesmaids fit in there with you? is there power for hairdryers, a full length mirror and enough space to spruce up eight ladies? again, this is a personal choice but many couples look at it as a bonus if they can get ready on site. after all, it means you'll already be there.
7. what is their fee and what other costs might you incur if you choose their venue?
if a venue's fee seems outrages there is often good reasoning behind it (more offered, more hours, more amenities, etc.). sometimes, however, there is not. see what kind of things/hours you get and if they balance out to a location that has a lower fee but you'll have to bring in everything imaginable (toilets, rentals, transportation, etc.). all it takes is a little math and your top options become clear.
8. how many of their staff members are present on the wedding day?
one, two, six people? again, the more the better, usually. even experienced planners don't know the ins and outs of a particular venue and people who know the property know how to handle things if they're to go drastically wrong. don't worry, it will all work out. it can also be a representation of how much they care about the property, their events and ultimately, you.
9. insurance requirements and policies?
some venues are more strict than others about insurance policies for you and your hired vendors. it can end up costing you a little bit of cash (usually a worthwhile cost) but it can be a little pain in your side (and a good amount of time) to gather all of your vendors requirements and policy agreements (i mean duh, that's what we are here for) in order to meet their requirements.
10. what is the average temperature at the time you're looking at and where will the sun be during your ceremony?
this is often overlooked. you check out the venue on a nice brisk march afternoon and don't realize that it tends to be 100+ degrees and hot as a mother in september. don't forget to ask. do they have one ceremony spot or a little corner you've been eyeing? check which direction the sun will be falling during that time of year. if it's directly in your guests eyes their comfort - and yours - will be jeopardized.
we hope this little roadmap to finding the perfect venue helped! it's not an easy choice but you'll now know about the things that you can live with or can't live without, and remember; the perfect venue does not exist but you can get pretty darn close.